Should you take a sick day?

If you’re asking yourself this, then yes!

If you’re sick, take a sick day. Spend the day resting. Get plenty of sleep, eat well, drink lots of water, and take it easy.

Sometimes, someone will tell me: “I feel horrible, but I have to go into work. There’s nobody to take over my tasks.”

I understand where this comes from. You want to do a good job at work. You care about your work.

But think about it this way: will you get much done at work when you’re sick? Probably not. Plus, if you are sick with something contagious, you might infect others, and cause the company—or your clients—more lost productivity than if you had stayed home.

When you’re physically sick, it’s a no-brainer. Take the sick day!

And even if you’re not physically sick, it might be worth taking a sick day. Just like you can be sick physically, you can really need some rest mentally.

If you care about your work, then taking a sick day to recuperate mentally will probably benefit both you and your boss (or your clients) in the long run. If you’re the sort of person who is really motivated—perhaps you need the break because you worked too much!—then taking a sick day is just good business sense.

To help you decide whether to take a sick day, I put together a little table. It’s based on a table that analysts used to pass around at the consulting firm I worked at.

Should you take a sick day?
How busy are you?How do you feel?
A bit tiredQuite tiredExhausted and/or physically sick
Not busyYesYesYes

When you need a break, lean towards taking one.

Now, if it’s extraordinarily busy at work, it might not be very nice towards your coworkers to take a break just because you feel a bit tired. In that case, maybe wait a few days to take that sick day to recuperate. That’s why the table asks how busy you are.

But, in general, if you think you could use a day at home, then take the sick day and rest.

If you’re hesitant to take a sick day, why? Let’s talk about it and see if we can uncover an underlying belief that’s making things more difficult for you than they need to be.


— Peter

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